Based on the name and smatterings of anecdotal evidence, we half expected Acme Fire Cult to be a glorified barbecue. Which it is – but one that simultaneously celebrates and rebels against the rules surrounding food cooked over hot coals.
For one, its sustainable ethos sees it shun burgers and hotdogs for a mostly veg-focused menu, while harnessing low-waste techniques to create its unique dishes. From there, things start to get whacky and wonderful. Acme also collaborates with 40FT Brewery and nowhere in London is the relationship between beer and food more intrinsically linked. We were offered a particular pint brewed from bananas and black pepper, for example, and while we weren’t brave enough to accept, you see our point.
We did spend a good five minutes quibbling about what certain items on the menu were, but in a way not knowing is part of the fun (although relaxed and friendly staff are happy to explain). What Acme is really asking you to do is take a leap of faith that anything you order will be tremendous.
As we sat on the rustic outdoor deck, breathing in the smoke from the wood-fired grill, stupidly pretty dishes started to arrive in quick succession on bamboo plates. Flatbreads drowned in a melted pool of marmite butter and lashings of pecorino were naughtily delicious, and a modest five quid. Our favourite dish of the night was, surprisingly, a cold one: silky coal-roasted leeks on a creamy bed of pistachio romesco. Elsewhere, a blackened, smoky mackerel fillet was offset by a verdant green pool of herbs, dill and capers, while slow-cooked ox cheek, supremely ugly to look at, revealed its beauty within as we pulled apart the succulent meat.
The desserts didn’t leave a lasting impression, but you’re here for the barbie, not a vegan chocolate pot. It’s hard to believe that such flimsy plates can hold such spectacular cooking, but Acme’s aim is to subvert and surprise in the most unpretentious, exciting and unusual way.